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Press Release - 20th Living History Field Day at Ft. Totten

Contact: August 30, 2012
Nick Gronseth

Twentieth Living History Field Day Coming Up at For Totten State Historic Site

DEVILS LAKE--Approximately 600 area seventh and eighth grade students will learn about frontier military activities, boarding school trades, and American Indian culture during the twentieth annual Living History Field Day on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, at the Fort Totten State Historic Site near Devils Lake. The site will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free admission.History demonstrations are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students will travel to more than 15 stations of living history demonstrations, activities and exhibits scheduled throughout the day.

The fort was built between 1867 and 1873 as a military outpost, but it served for most of its history as an Indian boarding and community school, from 1891 to 1959.

Living History Field Day is coordinated by the Fort Totten State Historic Site Foundation and the state’s history agency, the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND), which manages the site. The program is open to schools that have pre-registered. Openings for students are available. To register, call the Fort Totten State Historic Site at 701.766.4441. There is a $2 materials fee per student. Students receive study packets to further their study in the classroom.

Some of the demonstrations will include brain tanning by Sheila Sears; Gatling Gun and military arms demonstrations by Chuck Keller; social dancing by Miki Noltimier; a teacher in a one-room school by Betty Soper; frontier soldier by Steven Reidburn; cowboy poet by Dale Nystrom; officer’s wife by Karen Nelson; blacksmithing by Kerwin Lund; quilting by Audrey Myklebust & Gayle Getty; calligraphy by Sharon Cox; and native dance and song by the Rhythm Riderz Singers and the Spirit Lake Dancers.

From noon to 1 p.m., the guest performer will be Kevin Locke, whose Indian name is Tokeya Inajin, meaning the first to arise. Kevin Locke is a traditional flute player and hoop dancer who brings a message of “Unity through Understanding” to students. He is known throughout the world as the preeminent player of the indigenous Northern Plains flute, a traditional storyteller, and a cultural ambassador and educator.

Visitors will see several exhibits at the site, including the permanent introductory exhibit, Encountering Fort Totten, which features four self-guided itineraries that allow a visitor to follow a single individual throughout the fort, experiencing life at Fort Totten as that person might have lived it during its time as a military post or boarding school for American Indians. Also featured are Lincoln’s Legacy in North Dakota on tour from the State Historical Society of North Dakota, the Plumer Mercantile featuring original merchandise from a pioneer merchant, The Powder Magazine, the quartermaster’s building housing firefighting and agricultural equipment, the Pioneer Daughters Museum featuring artifacts relating to the frontier military and Indian school periods, and the Totten Trail Historic Inn, furnished to reflect the Victorian Era.

Living History Field Day is sponsored by the Devils Lake Kiwanis, Devils Lake Rotary Club, Arts Council of the Lake Region, Western State Bank, Altru Clinic Lake Region, Ottertail Power Company, Devils Lake Journal, N.D. Telephone Company, Fort Totten State Historic Site Foundation, State Historical Society of North Dakota, and Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce.

To register a school or for more information, contact the Fort Totten State Historic Site, at 701.766.4441.

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